While some difference of opinion exists (when doesn’t it?), Lent is a season of reflection in the Anglican tradition. Of course, and rightly so, this season of reflection incorporates themes of self-examination and penitence. It is a time following the joy of the Advent and Epiphany seasons in which Christians contemplate core values and personal priorities in light of the sacrifice made by Christ for humanity’s sake. It is not a step backward from the proclamation of the Epiphany as much as it is a step inward in response both to the heavy burden promulgated by sin and to the appropriate actions of those set free from that sin by the coming triumph of the resurrection and ascension. Consequently, Lenten observances ought to be directed toward those ends, and will necessarily be highly individualized and deeply personal.
As such, I feel like my Lenten observances should take a few things into consideration (I guess you could say I have to do some preliminary reflection in preparation for a season of reflection, ironic).
/1/ What has been ruling my life this year? If experience has taught me anything, it is that I tend to fall into patterns of behavior. Last year, I realized that “funny” tends to rule my behavior. I had been willing to do or say many things simply because they were funny. I’m sure its easy to see how quickly this can become detrimental behavior, but it was also a tool I used to trivialize issues I felt were out of my control. What kinds of things/behaviors can I give up or practice that will bring those places in my heart back into submission to Christ?
/2/ What has been hindering my worship? I go through seasons in my life that are characterized by doubt or frustration. What kinds of things/behaviors can I give up or practice that will bring the broader picture of Christian worship back into focus for me?
/3/ How have I neglected the things God has called me to do in life? Because I live in a rich country and have many resources (family, friends, colleagues, as well as sufficient monetary means), I can get distracted. What kinds of things/behaviors can I give up or practice that will remind me to live for others and not for my own pleasure?
What kinds of things do you work through in your personal Lenten observances?